1. A provocation for happiness
I thought I was going to read a book about children yet I learned so many things about my life as an adult. The author of the French book L’adolescence autrement (teenage years differently) starts her book inviting us to a beautiful trip, which will lead us to our autonomy as well as our children’s.
This is the secret of this book. Not only does it help us to improve the relationship with our teenagers, but it is also a great book to grow ourselves in our own life.
The author of the book write that living with a teenager is a provocation for happiness. They ask us: What did you do with your life? What are you waiting for before flying towards your dreams?
2. Giving up the fear of rebellion
The author defines teenagers as rebels against authority. The aim is to stop fearing the rebellion they can display.
I feel that when my daughter rebels, it is a way for her to separate from me, to distance herself, to establish she is different.
3. From the care received to the autonomous care
A teenager is in a transition period, from receiving care to learning to take care of herself.
As soon as my children were born, I decided I would do everything to avoid being a mother who smothers her kids.
Paradoxically for the majority of people, I therefore chose long-term breastfeeding, babywearing and co-sleeping. My goal was to raise confident, independent and autonomous children.
According to my humble opinion and experience, confident kids become autonomous way earlier. My children are teenagers now and so many people praise how autonomous they are. Moreover, they never had separation anxiety nor fear of the dark or anything else.
4. Nobody is the perfect parent
I read dozens of books about raising children and education during the pregnancy and I made really big efforts to practice attachment parenting. My daughter was born at home in a birthing pool.
Nevertheless, I am aware that my children suffer because I have been living with them as a single parent for ever and they realize the weight of what I have to carry on my shoulders.
This is definitely not the life I had in mind, neither for them nor for me.
However, instead of diving deep into guilt, I appreciate the words of the author of this brilliant book which read that guilt we can feel thinking of what we made our kids go through is a sign of awareness, it should not paralyse us, nor allow us to feel a victim. It is never too late to understand, repair, love, dive time and attention to your child, getting to know who he really is and supporting him in his choices.
5. The supershero who lives inside of us all
The book Being a teenager differently is uplifting and motivating. Indeed, raising a kid is going to bring out some resources we never know we had inside us.
When my children feel they are a burden, I repeat to them once again that without them, I would not have become a lawyer nor go and live for a whole year in Africa.
Children teach us so much about ourselves.
6. Of the urgency of letting go of control
What a relief to read this book. I left a toxic relationship inside which I was super controlled so I do not wish to repeat a similar pattern with my kids.
Catherine Dumonteil-Kremer writes that control is totally inefficient and counter-productive as well as a cause of separation from our children.
Control can lead a teenager to lying or silence. This is a way for him to protect himself.
I do not push my kids to study hard, choose one job instead of another, not even one hobby for another. Letting go of control means respecting.
According to the author, control can become very dangerous and lead to risky behaviors. Control has a price that we will pay sooner or later. Either our children resist or, worse, they give in and will pay a very high price later on because of the distortion of their personality that they will have to create in order to please us.
7. The child and teenager is a whole person
Of course we want our children to succeed and be happy. However, I cannot stop from feeling sadness when I see these prodigal sons or daughters who enter the profession of their parents and stay on the track their parents chose for them.
Once again (I often spoke about that topic in my videos!), our children do not belong to us, our teenagers even less. I am only a guide and an example for mine. They are not my reflection.
Catherine Dumonteil-Kremer writes that “Our child is not here to do what we want, but to become himself” (my translation) (“Notre enfant n’est pas là pour faire ce que nous voulons, mais pour devenir lui-même .”).
8. Not preventing pain
Trying to avoid the pain is a trap which makes it even worse, for our children and for us as well. When our teenager was a child, the goal was not to avoid pain in his life but to be a strong support whatever the situation.
Have a look at the great video by Cara Brotman, in which she explains how she taught her son that she would always be there for him, but never prevent pain nor resolve everything for him: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmrQSQ1c6Ok
There is also a great French author named Michel Fize who wrote super interesting books about the dignity of teenagers.
Our teenagers need time to find who they are, to change, to try and to test things out.
9. Pragmatic advice to respect teenagers
The first piece of advice from the book is simply to share at least one meal a day with teenagers.
The second one is to practice active listening, which means first to listen without interrupting then to reformulate.
No humiliation nor mockeries of course. The brain is not made for pain nor humiliation. To be able to learn well, the brain need positive emotions and a lot of social interactions says the author of the book.
Lastly, three magnificent qualities to offer our teenagers are: “neutral information authentic experience, unconditional support”.
10. The best way to learn to say no
Of course it is impossible to be on our teenagers’ back all the time, checking everything they do and worrying all night about it. What is the solution? To teach them self-respect, because this is by being loved that we learn to love and by being respected that we learn to respect oneself and others.
I do not believe in spanking children mostly because this is not a way to teach them respect (I am guilty of having done it a few times when they were kids, to my regret).
Careful not to force things either. Parents who try to influence their teenagers have less influence than the ones who simply spend time with them, according to the author of the book.
Happy reading my friend my sister!